Perhaps honoring Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius’ exhortations against a rush to pick a new SFPD chief, the Mayor Lee has reportedly been doing extensive interviews and background checks on each of the finalists for the position, which opened up after former top cop George GascÃ³n decamped for the District Attorney’s office. The problem, however, seems to be that he’s said to be unhappy with all of his options.
In stark contrast with his predecessor, Mayor Lee has reportedly been remarkably hands-off in the selection process, allowing the Police Commission to come up with its list largely on its own. This is a big break with Mayor Newsom, who was notorious for micromanaging the commission and personally making sure that his eventual picks to head the department (the aforementioned GascÃ³n as well as former chief Heather Fong) made it to the final round.
While the Police Commission’s picks haven’t been announced, the Chronicle’s Matier and Ross report that first on the list, and likely favorite, continues to be Bayview Station Captain Greg Suhr.
Suhr has the endorsement of the Police Officer’s Association as well as some on the Board of Supervisors, but also comes with the most problematic history. He has long been on the path to eventually head the department, but has seen a number of high-profile setbacks along the way.
He was one of the top brass snagged, but later found innocent, in former-D.A. Terrence Hallinan’s Fajitagate indict-a-thon, and was once demoted by Fong after advising a friend involved in a domestic violence incident to go to the police but not immediately calling it in. The friend reported the incident a couple days after her conversation with Suhr, however he broke state law by not notifying authorities himself.
There had long been rumors of bad blood between Suhr and Fong. They had previously feuded over Suhr’s handling of an anarchist protest in the Mission that Police Officer’s Association head Gary Delagnes called, “an obvious move by the chief of police to do everything she can to remove Greg Shur out of consideration for the chief’s job.”
Also under consideration is reportedly Commander Dan Mahoney. Mahoney handles some community and media relations for the SFPD and was recently promoted by GascÃ³n from lieutenant directly to commander without making the traditional stop at station chief.
Mahoney is most notable for leading the charge for SFPD to embrace the use of tasers. Mahoney doesn’t have as much baggage as Suhr, but that’s largely because, many say, his tenure as SFPD leadership has been so brief. Brief enough, in fact, that some say he lacks the experience to be an acceptable candidate for chief.
Anti-nightlfe crusader Commander James Dudley was also rumored to be under consideration for the job but reportedly did not make it to the Police Commission’s final list.
The third option is an as of yet unnamed candidate coming from outside the department. The biggest drawback to bringing in someone from the outside is that, because the chief could well be replaced when a new mayor is chosen in November’s election, convincing top tier candidates to relocate their families for a job that might only last a few months may prove difficult.
Additionally, an outside candidate may look good on paper, but not promoting from inside the department may cause grumblings from the rank-and-file at a time when the city will soon be looking to gain money-saving concessions from the officers’ union to fill its increasingly empty coffers.
Given the drawbacks of all three of the candidates presented to him, both the Chron and CBS5 are reporting that Lee’s not thrilled with any of his options, but according to the Chron, these three were the only ones that all seven members of the commission could agree upon.
But they might have find a way to overcome their differences yet again. if Lee decides he can’t pick any of these candidates, he has the option to send the list back to the Commission for a fresh lineup of names. In any case, it looks like Nevius is getting his wish — this is going to take a while.